What is a Vasectomy?

(Read 'History Of Vasectomy') To better understand why a vasectomy makes you unable to have children, (see illustration of the male reproductive system) It is important to understand some of the anatomy of this system. Sperm are produced in each testicle within the scrotum and are stored in the epididymis (a small “bag” that sits on top of the testicle). When called for, the sperm move up the vas deferens (the “sperm tube”) of each testicle to the urethra (“urine tube”) of the Penis. Along the way, the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland secrete fluids that nourish and transport the sperm. When you have an orgasm, you ejaculate semen which is 98% sperm nourishment fluid and 2% sperm. During a vasectomy, each vas deferens is blocked so that the sperm cannot travel though it. Usually a piece of each vas is removed and the cut ends are sealed.

Vasectomy 1.png

Is a vasectomy a major medical procedure?

No. It is a minor procedure which takes approximately 30 minutes and can be done in the physician’s office with local anesthetic (freezing). Although you will be awake, your scrotum will be numbed so that you will feel no pain. The doctor will make a small incision in the front of the middle of the scrotum, locate the vas deferens and remove a section. Then he will close the ends of each vas with an electric current and tie each end back upon itself with a stitch. After the procedure is repeated on the other vas through the same incision, he will close the incision in the scrotum with an absorbable stitch located under the skin edges. It is usually wise to wear briefs, not boxers after the procedure.

Vasectomy 2.png
Vasectomy 3.png

What effect will a vasectomy have on my body?

None, other than preventing the sperm from traveling through each vas deferens and out through the urethra during orgasm. Your testicles will continue to manufacture sperm for the rest of your life; however, the sperm will die after production inside the sperm tubes and they will be absorbed by the surrounding tissue. This will continue to happen for the rest of your life. You will still be able to have erections and there will not be any noticeable difference in the amount of fluid ejaculated at orgasm. Additionally, your body will continue to produce male hormones as it did before the vasectomy.

How will I feel after a vasectomy?

You will be able to go home as soon after the procedure as you feel able. If you feel that you may experience weakness or be unsteady on your feet, you should have someone with you to drive you home. The doctor will advise you to rest and to periodically apply an ice pack to your scrotum for a couple of days after surgery. You can expect to feel some pain for two to three days for which the doctor may advise and prescribe a mild pain medication. The athletic support (or briefs) should be continued to be worn for three to four days after surgery to add to your comfort. Don’t be alarmed if you feel some discomfort for the first week or two during intercourse — it takes time for everything to heal. Swelling and discoloration around the genital area is common and usually disappears within two weeks; there also may be a small amount of bloody discharge from the incision for up to 3 days. The doctor will provide instructions about which activities to avoid, when you can return to work (usually within one to two days), and when you can resume intercourse (usually after week). He will alert you to signs of possible complications.

What are the possible complications of a vasectomy?

The vasectomy is among the safest of surgical procedures; potential problems are not life-threatening. Sometimes, an infection develops in the incision or the epididymis, or bleeding may occur inside the scrotum, resulting in a swelling and a bruised appearance. A small lump which is called a sperm granuloma, may develop due to leakage of sperm in the area where the vas was cut. Such a lump usually is not painful. Very rarely, the vas reconnects and you can become fertile again. Your doctor will discuss these complications and alert you to symptoms of each.

Does a vasectomy work immediately?

Absolutely not!!! You still have sperm stored between your penis and the point where the vas deferens where blocked. Since it usually takes several ejaculations to clear this residual sperm, you and your partner must use another form of birth control until your doctor has determined that you are sterile. Approximately 6 weeks after the vasectomy, your doctor will arrange for a semen examination at the local laboratory (see following). Someone will examine the semen under a microscope to be sure that no sperm are present. When this is so, you and your partner may stop using a birth control method. If you’re semen contains sperm, the doctor will ask you to return in one month for another semen examination. If you’re semen still contains sperm more than three months after the operation you may need a repeat operation.

Is a vasecomy reversible

For all practical purposes, the answer is NO. There is a procedure called a vasovasotomy in which each of the cut fast deference is reconnected. However, this major operation is not guaranteed to restore fertility.

What do I do after a vasectomy?

  • Return Home and rest for approximately 48 hours. Wear snug briefs or an athletic support.
  • Apply an ice pack to your scrotum on top of your underwear (ie. don’t apply directly to the scrotum). Don’t use frozen peas…nobody will want to eat them later!!!
  • Do not have a bath for the next three days. You may, however, take a shower 24 hours after the Vasectomy procedure.
  • Keep an ice pack on the scrotum for 20 minutes at a time every 90 minutes of so for the first day. This will reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity for one week (ie. don’t work out for a week). Note: Doing the dishes is not considered to be strenuous physical activity (sorry).
  • Sexual intercourse may be resumed after 3 days – especially if you are able to do the dishes.
  • Dissolvable stitches are used, so no stitches will need to be removed.
  • Remember that you are not sterile immediately. Active sperm remains in the tubes for some time after a Vasectomy, so continue to take birth control precautions until you have a proven negative sperm count. Negative Sperm are usually achieved after 10-20 ejaculations.
  • After the surgery, you will probably have some pain and swelling in the scrotal region. The scrotum may be black and blue (from a small amount of bleeding). This is normal and should not be a cause for concern. An increase in the size of your scrotum means that you should call your Doctor or Surgeon immediately.
  • A very small percentage of cases (approximately 1/5000), the ends of the Vas will find a way to grow back together and the surgery will have to be repeated. For this reason, some vasectomized men have their semen checked every 2 to 4 years.
Watch for the following danger signals and notify the Doctor if any occur:
  • Fever (over 38 degrees Celsius)
  • Bleeding from the site of the incision
  • Excessive pain
  • Swelling of the scrotum

Is there an advantage of vasectomy rather than my partner having her tubes tied?

Vasectomy is a simpler and safer operation than that required to sterilize a woman. Despite this, many women prefer that they be sterilized instead. This is something only you and your partner can decide as being the appropriate procedure for your family.